The evolution of fairness norms: An essay on Ken Binmore's natural justice

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (1):33-50 (2006)
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Abstract

This article sets out and comments on the arguments of Binmore 's Natural Justice, and specifically on the empirical hypotheses that underpin his social contract view of the foundations of justice. It argues that Binmore 's dependence on the hypothesis that individuals have purely self-regarding preferences forces him to claim that mutual monitoring of free-riding behavior was sufficiently reliable to enforce cooperation in hunter-gatherer societies, and that this makes it hard to explain why intuitions about justice could have evolved, since in such a society intuitions about justice would have had no adaptive advantage. I argue that it is empirically plausible that human beings display systematic other-regarding preferences. These could be incorporated into Binmore 's general framework in a way that would enrich it and make it more useful for solving practical problems about justice. Key Words: natural justice • fairness • norms • evolution • self-regarding preferences • Rawls • social contract

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References found in this work

Behavioral Ethics Meets Natural Justice.Herbert Gintis - 2006 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (1):5-32.

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